Commute Like Jesus: 5 Steps to Redeeming Travel Time


I’m sure you’ve heard the advice from every time management expert out there – utilize your commute time by listening to educational materials, such as books on tape. (Yes, the fact that people mentioned cassette tapes shows you how old this idea is.)

It’s not horrible advice, and I’m all for making the best use of our commute. But with this approach, I think many people are making hidden assumptions and end up missing the best way to spend their travel time.

Let’s take a look at the behavior of Jesus for some insight.

Jesus and Commuting

Jesus is no stranger to commuting. As he travels around preaching, he’ll often hop on a boat to take him to his next destination. And a lot of time, that destination is a quiet place to rest.

In Matthew 14 and Mark 6, we see Jesus grieving over the loss of John the Baptist and the disciples too busy to even eat. Jesus boards a boat with his disciples and sets off to get some rest.

But because of Jesus’s popularity, those plans don’t pan out. Instead of landing in a silent, relaxing place, the crowds follow Jesus. He’s right back in the thick of things, healing and preaching.

And maybe it’s just me, but he seems recharged. The very act of commuting helped Jesus relax. I can imagine that Jesus made the most of his commute by resting during those times of solitude while he was in transit.

You can see this in Matthew 8, where Jesus used a commute as an opportunity to get some sleep (before waking up to calm the ensuing storm). In fact, Jesus instructs his disciples in Matthew 16 to prepare a boat for departure in case the crowd grows to an unmanageable number.

The Modern Commute

Jesus seemed to enjoy and actually invite travel time.

How different are we? We view our commutes as necessary evils. To us, they’re unwelcome breaks in our day: pockets of unproductive time that we have to try and salvage.

The common solution to commuting is cramming more in. Make some business calls, listen to some educational materials – do whatever you can so that travel time is converted into somewhat productive time.

Here’s the dangerous assumption: doing something is what defines productive time. In this line of thought, a commute is seen as potential waste unless we find a way to do more.

We would be in the boat with Jesus tapping our toe, anxiously waiting to land and get back to productive work. Or we’d be really gung-ho and tuck away a scroll to memorize while we were travelling around in a boat. We just have to do something.

But as faithful stewards of our time, we define productivity as bringing glory to God and being obedient to Christ. Sometimes the most faithful, obedient thing we can do is to rest.

Can we view our commutes as Jesus viewed them? Instead of seeing our travel as wasted time we have to recover, can we view our commutes as blessings? Can we rejoice in our temporary bubble of tranquility?

Enjoying the Blessing

Here are some practical suggestions on how we can truly make the most of our commute.

  1. Pray
    Use this time as a time to talk to God. When something is burdening me, driving around and pouring out my heart to God is an experience of healing.

  2. Notice Others

    Notice the churches, the houses, and the people that you pass. Notice the other travelers around you.

    How many commuters will you pass that are battling cancer? How many are facing divorce, the death of a loved one, or eminent bankruptcy? Not only does this breed compassion for your fellow man, but it reminds you that you’re not the only one with pain.

    Instead of nameless figures that you’ll see for a few seconds and then never again, remember they’re beings made in the image of God that Christ died to save.

  3. Praise God

    Take a look at the blue skies, the trees, and the grandeur of God’s creation. Remember how big – and how beautiful – our God is. This may sound crazy, but I love listening to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World while I do this. I’m sure there are better and more appropriate tunes, but this one never fails to brighten even the worst days.

  4. Listen to Materials

    There are loads of great sermons and podcasts out there. Sometimes I just get a longing to hear the word preached or to hear some good discussion. Travel time is a great opportunity for this, especially on longer trips.

    The danger here is in falling back to the old gotta-do-something-while-traveling-to-be-productive mindset. View your commute as a blessing and not as a waste.

  5. Reflect

    I’ve found commute time to be a great opportunity to think deeply about upcoming blog posts, lessons, etc. I’m eager to jump into the car now to have a chance to mull things over. But I’ve found that when I’m stressed, I often benefit more from relaxing through one of the other items on this list.

  6. The point is that whatever you do, don’t just veg out and go on auto-pilot. Don’t have one of those trips where you suddenly realize you can’t remember where you have travelled or what you have thought about for the last fifteen minutes.

    Be intentional about making the most of your commute time – but try to view this as enjoying a blessing and not reducing waste.

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  • Jeremy Myers

    The commuting Jesus. I like it.

    I have often wished I could read on my commute, but until Google comes out with their self-driven car (they’re working on it!), we’ll just have to stick with the great suggestions you provide here.

    I listen to music, listen to sermons, think, pray, and talk to myself.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Maybe one day you can hire a chauffeur so you can read while you commute 🙂
      There are many great ways to take advantage of the blessings of our commute. I’m glad you utilize several. Thanks for sharing!

  • Alex Humphrey

    “we define productivity as bringing glory to God and being obedient to Christ. Sometimes the most faithful, obedient thing we can do is to rest.

    very interesting. I like your list a lot. Sometimes when I’m in the car by myself I’ll turn off the radio and enjoy being in the vehicle with God.

    Sometimes I feel him, other times I don’t. Either way, I know He’s there. Sometimes we talk, but most of the time we sit there and I enjoy knowing I am in his presence.

    It’s something I haven’t done in awhile. I’ll have to do it this week =D

    • Loren Pinilis

      I think the key is the intentional nature of using our commute time wisely. Whether it’s just sitting in the presence of God or anything else, our commutes are wonderful times to pause and reflect – not just wasted moments while we go from here to there. Thanks for sharing!

  • Brandon

    Great post and thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

    • Loren Pinilis

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Tony J. Alicea

    Okay, I have to be honest and when I read this line:

    “Jesus seemed to enjoy and actually invite travel time.”

    I thought you said “time travel”. Then I started day dreaming about Jesus in a Delorean and I completely got sidetracked.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Well, that’ll be a mental image I’ll have for a while 🙂
      What’s “flux capacitor” in biblical greek?

  • Eric

    Great post on redeeming the time in the car. When I was commuting so much to work I found it to be the best prayer time and quiet time. It was the best time to think and reflect.

    • Loren Pinilis

      I’m glad to hear that you were wise enough to intentionally view your commute times as opportunities for greater things. Thanks for sharing!

  • Bradley J. Moore

    Wow, the most productive thing might be to rest? That is so counter-intuitive for many of us! But absolutely right. I so appreciate your fresh insight on commuting coming from Jesus. Great example. I love getting in the car and just spacing out sometimes with my ipod on random shuffle. Really, it can be a spiritual experience!

    • Loren Pinilis

      You’re exactly right – our cutlure is telling us to go, go, go. Glad to hear that you take advantage of your commute time as well!

  • Michael

    I love the idea of noticing. There are so many cool things out there that we miss simply because we do not see.

    • Loren Pinilis

      So true. How many dozens and dozens of people do we pass every day and never think twice about them? They all have stories, lives, hardships, successes… and souls.

  • http://thepfjournal.wordpress/com Carey

    I began listening to messages, etc. when I did a paper route in the early mornings (2 1/2 hours). It got me started and now my commute and my consequent learning have never been the same!

    • Loren Pinilis

      I know what you mean – I love listening to podcasts on my iPhone.